A PopSugar Best Book of Spring!
“An exceptional psychological thriller.” -- Publishers Weekly STARRED review
“Leaves you wanting more.” -- Liv Constantine, author of the national bestseller The Last Mrs. Parrish
“A smart, wickedly plotted psychological thriller brimming with dark surprises” -- Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author
“Intense, creepy, and classic Rouda. A chilling story, told so well. Don’t miss it!” -- J. T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author
“B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena fans will fall head over heels for this suspenseful psychological thriller set in an upscale Southern California community.” -PopSugar
“The Gone Girl-style domestic suspense novel follows Jane, a narcissistic perfectionist dealing with the death of her daughter.” — Washington Post
“Rouda’s portrayal of Jane is fabulously compelling and darkly hilarious…The resolution is satisfying, but the ride is so diabolically twisted and entertaining that readers will be sorry when it come to a stop.” -Shelf Awareness
“No one creates a narcissist like Rouda…. A wow read that will have you floored.” -Bookstr
From the author of Best Day Ever, another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena.
The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.
Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.
It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?
The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…
|Publisher:||Graydon House Books|
|File size:||917 KB|
About the Author
Kaira Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction that explores what goes on beneath the surface of seemingly perfect lives. Her domestic suspense novel, Best Day Ever, is a USA TODAY bestseller translated into more than eight languages. Her new novel,The Favorite Daughter, is available now. She lives in Washington, D.C., and Southern California and is at work on her next novel.
Read an Excerpt
I glance at my creation and smile: Behold the dining room table. It is critical to create the proper atmosphere when entertaining, the illusion of perfection. As one of the most important hostesses in The Cove, I can assure you I pull together elegant dinners without a second thought. I know all the key ingredients: arrangements from the best florist in town, tonight white hydrangeas nestled in between succulents, and linens from the exclusive small boutique where everyone must shop to purchase ridiculously expensive tablecloths and napkins, in this case, brushed silk, off-white.
I've outdone myself with this table. This will go down in the record books as a crowning achievement in my life.
I'm kidding, of course. I don't care a smidgen about entertaining. And typically, if I'm going to spend time adorning something, it's going to be myself. Truth be told, the crystal and china pieces on the table were wedding gifts from long forgotten friends, rarely used. I dug them out from the back of the cupboard. Perhaps I am trying a bit too hard, but tonight is special. It's my coming out party so to speak.
After a year of grieving, it's time to step back into my family, or what remains of it and that's precisely my plan. I'm reclaiming the throne, like a queen who has been in exile but returns with pomp and circumstance. I shake my head as I look around my castle. I used to be so proud of this home, something so expensive and so uppity that my mother would never be comfortable stepping foot inside. Good old mom. She taught me everything she knew about how to put yourself first in life. She was ruthless, delighting in bringing others down, including her own daughter. But look around: I'm winning, Mom. I touch the diamond-encrusted heart pendant hanging between my surgically enhanced, perfect breasts. All gifts from my husband in happier times.
My husband David will be so surprised when he arrives home tonight, and he deserves it. He's been full of surprises this year. In fact, I discovered another little secret when a piece of mail arrived at our house last week. Typically, he has his mail sent to his office, says it's easier to pay bills that way. This particular notice from the bank must have just slipped through the cracks. I'm playing along. For now. The letter congratulated David on the purchase of a new home. I must admit, the thought of a fresh start made my heart flutter. I know it will be even bigger, more expensive than this home. I mean, this home was fine when the kids were growing up, but now we need something grander. More fitting of our station in life. We deserve it after all we've been through.
Maybe he'll tell me all about it tonight? That would be wonderful. I'm planning our reconnection dinner and he will announce his surprise. I glance at my platinum watch, enjoying the sparkles of the diamond-encrusted face, until my heart thumps at the time. It's getting late and I have so much more to do. I can't believe I've lost a year in my haze of grief. Sure, some of the haze can be blamed on all of the anti-depressants the doctors made me take. They were both a relief, and a distraction. While I was stuck in bed, at home, my family members have made the most of their time, both so busy in fact I've had trouble keeping up. But not any longer. I'm back, drug-free, and better than ever. I grab the final crystal wine glass from the kitchen counter and walk to the table, glancing out the window as the bright orange sun drops into the deep blue Pacific Ocean. In an instant, the glass topples from my hand and seems to tumble in slow motion as it falls and shatters on the stone floor, sending sound waves echoing through our lifeless house like an earthquake. Shards of glass sprinkle the tops of my bare feet and dot the floor around me while a large chunk of the stem rests under the dining room table, glistening like the blade of a knife.
I fold my arms across my chest for comfort and can't help but admire my ribs poking into my hands, a reminder of how much weight I've lost the last year. Grief is good for the figure. You and I already know thin women get attention, respect in our society. On the few excursions I've made out of the house lately, when I've taken care to dress and apply make-up, I've noticed an uptick in appreciative glances from men. That's nothing new. My whole life I've enjoyed the admiration of the opposite sex.
For months, I've been secretly working out in the garage when David is at work and Betsy at school. Just me and the handsome P90X instructors. My mom would be impressed by my fitness commitment. She never missed a chance to remind me being skinny was the key to our future. And then she'd take my dinner away. She's long gone, died when I was fourteen in a tragic car accident, but she still haunts me. That's the power of the bond between mothers and daughters. It can never be broken, even in death.
But glass can. I stare at my almost-perfect table setting — I even nestled votive candles in crystal holders around the centerpiece and in front of each place setting. Just call me Martha Stewart.
I wonder what I should wear tonight? Here, in the land of expensive designer purses and shoes, most women blend in, their monochromatic coolness anchored by jeans, topped by their perfectly smooth, porcelain faces. I remember my first dinner party at The Cove: me from the south, them from Southern California. I'd worn a yellow silk cocktail dress, my biggest pearls and wrapped a white cashmere pashmina around my shoulders. I was as out of place as a Twinkie at a Weight Watchers meeting. But you know what? All the husbands approved, tired of the sameness they endured in their wives. Back then, David was proud to have me on his arm, proud I stood out like a beautiful f lower in a meadow of boring grass. It's ironic, really: I gave up my dreams to move here, to become the perfect Orange County housewife. I could have been so much more.
This ocean view is why we bought this home all those years ago, scraping together every last dime and tapping into David's trust fund to move into The Cove, the best community in Southern California. We were young parents, and so madly in love. The ocean was romantic, beautiful then. Not deadly and dark and cold.
I feel the rush of heat as my hands clench into fists. Anger and loss, did you ever notice how those emotions mix together? It's a toxic combination. I swallow. I need to focus on the table, the first step of my coming out party. All that's missing from this perfect setting is the fourth wineglass. I have another one, of course. It's almost symbolic. It was Mary's spot at the table, Mary's wineglass that fell to the floor.
Mary who dropped into the sea. I shake my head to quiet the voice.
My therapist Dr. Rosenthal assured me at our last session that it would be a step forward to eat together as a family in the dining room. She wants us to reconnect, and I most always do whatever she says. At our next session I'll happily tell the doctor all about tonight. I am committed to re-energizing my life, reconnecting with my family. I tell her what I want her to know, what she wants to hear. Sure, she's the one with the PhD, but I'm the one with life experience. I'm the heart of this family. That's a mom's place. Perhaps I won't mention the broken glass during our session, although it is emblematic of all that has happened this year since Mary left us. Nothing is right. My husband has thrown his energy into work, he tells me. He's gone all the time these days. Betsy is focused on graduating high school in five short days. I swallow. I push away the silly fear, the nagging sound of my mom's voice telling me Betsy will leave me. It's nonsense. Betsy loves me, would never leave me. I mean it's not like she's brilliant like Mary was, or smart like Mary was. No, Betsy is average. She'll be dependent on me forever, and that's just fine. And David, well, he's buying us a new home. Everyone is getting in line.
The hair at the back of my neck tingles on alert. Someone is watching me. I look out the window and see the five-year-old cherub next door, his round face pushing through a partially open window, his eyes bright and curious. He's up too high. He must have climbed onto a chair. Where is the nanny? Twenty children under the age of eleven die each year because of falls from windows, and another five thousand are critically injured.
Tragic accidents happen all the time. That's why I watched my daughters every moment of their lives, never letting them out of my sight, one way or another, ever. They were like extensions of my arms, a hand for each of them. My little mini-me's.
I glance at the boy next door and then to the ground two stories below. There is nothing to break his fall if he topples out, just a thin strip of cement between his house and ours. I shudder at the thought. We pay astronomical prices to live on top of each other at the coast. Proximity and privilege means it's hard to keep secrets here. Turns out it's also hard to keep friends, and family.
The child is waving at me. I try to help him, pointing and mouthing the word "down" like I'm commanding a dog. I know all of the tragic things that can happen to him. Children who land on a hard surface, such as concrete, are twice as likely to suffer head injuries.
I can't witness this tragedy. Glass or no glass, I tip toe away from the table, waiting for the sharp sensation of a shard slicing through my foot. I'm almost out of the minefield of glass when I realize I have company.
"What are you doing?" Enter stage right: My handsome husband David, thick brown hair, blue eyes, dimpled — a model WASP — is in the kitchen and assessing the scene. He could have been an actor, he's perfectly type-cast as the successful businessman, 1950s to today.
"I made a mess of things." I say before covering my face with my hands. I can't resist leaving a small space between my fingers to peek at him. His smile fades as he drops his briefcase on the kitchen counter. Poor dear.
"Is that broken glass on the dining room floor?"
"Dropped a glass. An accident." I mumble my response from behind my hands.
"Are you hurt?" He takes a few steps, shoes crunching on glass, and he's beside me.
"I think I'm fine, but can you call the people next door?" I drop my hands from my face and point out the window.
"Yes, their child is about to die."
I watch David push his thick dark hair off his forehead, a nervous habit he's acquired in the past year. "What? Stop talking like that. It's creepy."
I sort of scare him these days. I'm not sure why exactly. Perhaps it is my seemingly unshakeable grief ? Is he afraid it will envelope him, too?
He steps closer and looks out the window. I do, too. The child has disappeared, hopefully safe in his nanny's arms. Or he's died from the fall. My mind jumps to terrible conclusions these days but unfortunately, my mind is often correct. Feminine intuition, you really can't beat it. Mine is superbly tuned.
"There's no one there, Jane."
"I can see that. He was there just a minute ago." I hate it when he doesn't believe me and it's been happening more and more these days. I don't like it. That's one of the reasons I stopped taking the pills. I mean, your husband should love you and worship the ground you walk on. He doesn't just now, I know, but he will again. I'm back. He'll see. I take a deep breath. I need to make my husband treasure me again. I will provide him with that opportunity starting tonight. He has been avoiding me. Like I carry a disease. I'm not contagious. Of course, there are other things holding his interest these days. He thinks I don't know about that. Silly man. I force a smile to my lips, blink my eyes.
"Are you hurt?" Now he attempts kindness. What's the old saying: A day late and a dollar short?
"Don't think so." I shrug as he takes my hand. As we touch I wish it was electric like in the long-ago days, but it's not. Of course, all relationships change over time, and we've been married for more than two decades. Back in the early days, that first year together, he would have scooped me into his arms and carried me to a chair. Now that we're a long-time married couple he escorts me old-lady style to the kitchen and pulls out a barstool. I slide onto the cold, hard, wooden seat.
David checks my feet for glass while I stare at the top of his head. He's blessed with thick, dark brown hair, without a streak of gray. Mary had the same glorious mane of hair. In fact, Mary looks a lot like David, despite the fact she was adopted. Isn't that funny? Two daughters, one who looks just like my husband, the other, Betsy, our biological daughter, who looks like a watered-down version of me. Perfect, isn't it?
"You're not cut. I'll sweep up the glass. Why don't you go put socks on? Your feet are freezing."
I slide off the barstool. "Thanks for coming to my rescue, handsome." I bat my eyes at him and slowly lick my bottom lip. I should win a domestic Golden Globe. Oh come on. You know as well as I do that men love to be flattered. David's no exception. Tell a man he's handsome, smart, strong, or, the doozy, the best you've ever had in bed, and well, they'll love you at least in that moment. I just need to win him back, make him love me again. And I know I can do it. He loved me once and deep down, he still does. For now, I'll just kill him with kindness. It's the Southern Belle in me. You catch more f lies with honey than with vinegar.
See. David f lashes a smile, a crack in the armor, pats my shoulder. I used to have him so well trained. Husbands. You let up just a little and they regress. And then he's back to business. "Are you sure you're alright? You're not overdoing it, are you?"
"I love this, this entertaining, you know that." I never did, actually, and I'm not fine. I'm angry, but I smile. I glance at David, my eyes taking in his cool demeanor, his practiced professional air. We speak in a stilted language now, tip-toeing around each other like we're both surrounded by broken glass. This year has been hard on our marriage in so many different ways. I'm committed to fixing things, to getting us back on track. I know this happens in every relationship. We're just in a down cycle. I'm sure you've been there, too. I'm afraid we're running out of time. Betsy will graduate soon. She needs to see us, her parents, in love. All kids want is happy parents. While she's at community college going to class, she should imagine us here, at home, waiting to share dinner together each evening, a model of marital bliss.
I hope we can present a united front for her this week. It's always best to hang onto the one you know, at least until you find something better, that's what my mom told me. And we were so good together, David and I. Meant to be. "You set the table for four. That's just creepy. Are you trying to upset us?" he asks, his voice thick with emotion.
Is it anger, too? I don't know.
"No, I'm trying to have a family dinner. Dr. Rosenthal told me to. I'm sorry, I must have made a mistake. Subconscious. I miss her so much." I look out the window. It's safe now because it's dark outside and the ocean is invisible. All I see is my ref lection. Tight, form-fitting white t-shirt, sparkling heart. I do look good.
"How do you make that kind of mistake? Really Jane?" David's shaking his head. I need to woo him not disappoint him and I should try to refrain from spooking him.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to, darling." I dig my fingernails into the palm of my right hand and smile at my husband. David's watching me admire my ref lection. What does he think when he sees me? He can't deny that I'm beautiful, but I know he doesn't see me with the same loving thoughts of the past, that much I know is true. We all change especially in the face of unimaginable tragedy like we've been through. It's understandable. That's why I'm giving him one last chance. Starting tonight.
I turn to face him and take a step closer. He crosses his arms in front of his chest, tilts his head. His jaw is clenched, eyes dark. He thinks he's a tough guy. I take another step toward him and he backs away. Ha!
I smile and ask, "Let's start over. This is a special night. Darling, do you know when Betsy will be home? She knows how important tonight is to me." Truth be told, I'm not sure I told her about our dinner. But she's a senior in high school, she still lives in my home. She should be home for family dinner. This is part of my plan to do everything I can to make this graduation week extra special, for both David and Betsy. I hope Betsy knows that even though Mary is gone, we are still a family. None of this is easy, it never has been. I mean, it's hardest for me trying to be so self less, the perfect wife and the perfect mother. I spoiled the girls, of course. Sometimes when you give them everything, they take you for granted. My mom warned me about that, too.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Favorite Daughter"
Copyright © 2019 Kaira Rouda.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What an awesome read! I read this book in 2 days! I couldn't read it fast enough especially after meeting the Author Kaira Rouda, at a Thrillerfest book event the day I started it and hearing her speak about the book and her thoughts about it and the writing process involved. It didn't quite end like I thought it would for the protagonist but it was still an awesome Domestic psychological thriller. I'm so looking forward to reading more of Kaira's books
Jane Harris has lost her oldest daughter due to a tragic accident. It doesn’t take long in reading this book for readers to see if there’s something strange really wrong with Jane. Of course she’s grieving the loss of her daughter. But what’s more is she’s grieving the loss of her former self. After some time on antidepressants, mixed with difficult memories from her past, Jane is trying to rise up. In so doing she makes very weird statements. One of the most difficult things to read as the story starts to take form is that her surviving daughter Betsy is certainly not Jane's favorite. Her favorite was Mary. Now Jane will do whatever she can to make Betsy pay for not being the daughter that died. While she’s at it why not make her husband pay for all of his misdeeds too. He has lied and cheated for years. One of his worst travesties has just been revealed to her. I had to stop a couple of times while reading this book. I was like, 'are you for real Jane?' She is one of the most unreliable characters I have read in a very long time. She takes herself very seriously. Are we the reader supposed to take her seriously? If so, then I feel really bad for her. If not, then I really want to laugh because no one can have the thought process is that she has shown us. Her memories are interspersed within the narration. To stave off boredom she reads strange articles and quotes from the Internet. Then there is a sudden, sharp twist in the story. It happened so fast, so be careful, because the reader just might miss it. Jane has a plan. A deep, dark, disturbing one. In so doing she is utterly excited, not caring for one moment who she might hurt. Despite this excitement, the feeling that it’s all going to fall apart, the knowledge that if I ever knew somebody like this in real life I would run in the other direction. With these and other similar thoughts, I must admit to growing tired of Jane and her antics. It seemed to me that no one was ever going to wake up and see what Jane was all about. Nonetheless, I pulled through it and got to see that she really was that bad and then I admit to being eager to see if and when she would be stopped. Another thing, Jane has no remorse. She knows everything she is saying and doing is wrong, but she simply doesn’t care. I will say that there were some things I didn’t like in this book, such as what happened to Cash, the dog, but I am glad that I got to read something that was just a bit different. While Jane was planning, admiring herself and and telling about her perfection, and acting upon set plan, she is talking to us the reader at all times. She pulled us into the story whether we want to be there or not. Thank you to the Kaira Rouda for providing a character that everybody is going to hate. To be triggered into those feelings while reading a book says to me, good job. Well done. I definitely look forward to reading much more by Ms. Rouda. Many thanks to Grayson House and to NetGalley for this ARC for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
Wowee wow what a triumph of a psychological thriller! A main character you love to hate in the best possible way, more twists than San Fran’s Lombard Street, and wickedly funny too. June Harris, who lost her oldest daughter Mary a year old, has been beset by grief and finally re-emerges to find her once perfect family changed around her. Husband now gone long hours at the office. Daughter totally secretive. Even Mary, the quintessential “good girl,” may not have been all she appeared to be. Rouda writes characters you detest so beautifully that you love her for it because she keeps you so darned entertained. 5/5 Pub Date 21 May 2019. Available at Amazon. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. #TheFavoriteDaughter #NetGalley
A year after the death of her eldest daughter Mary from a horrific accident, Jane Harris tries to put her always present grief behind her and start anew with her husband David and youngest daughter Betsy. But that is difficult as she has been in a drug induced haze and in counseling for the past year dealing with the death. There is a memorial for Mary coming up as well as Betsy's graduation from high school. Her husband David is never around and leaves for work early and arrives home very late. She feels like she has missed so much over the past year that she has to make up for the time she was "away" grieving. Jane soon realizes very quickly that her family has changed and in her mind not for the better. Betsy is short with her and very secretive and David seems to want to have nothing to do with her. Jane gives a clear picture to the reader of a family moving on without her and she will have none of that. Jane, although in mourning has been a busy woman throughout the year. She sees and knows more than her family thinks, It's time now for her to reclaim her family. But then Jane discovers someone knows something about Mary's accident, her husband is having an affair and Betsy has been hiding things from her. She misses Mary so much because she never caused these types of problems. What should she do? Well fix the family of course! As only she can. This psychological fast paced thriller will have your heart racing as Jane addresses the reader and gives us bits and pieces of her plans and how the past and present merge into an explosive ending. From the author of The Best Day Ever, Kaira Rouda is a psychological genius in her character development.
My thoughts: Hard to put down, clever and suspenseful! I requested this book from my local library, after one of my GR’s friends told me about the “Material’s Request” through my local library. I’d seen the option—and knew what it was for—but for some reason it never really “clicked” in my head. OMG, this is such a wonderful benefit! Not only does my library get the book, but I am on the top of the list to borrow it. Since I’m only allowed a limited number per year, I’ll be saving them for “exceptional” books! This was definitely not a wasted request! Jane—the main character—pulled me in with her eloquent storytelling. In my opinion, her character is what makes this book so incredible. And she is a character. I felt so many emotions towards her—outrage, sympathy, shock, hatred, but she still managed to make me laugh throughout the book! Jane is a wife and mother of two daughters. She’s controlling because she knows what’s best for her family. Most suspense/thrillers have some type of revenge in the plot, but Ms. Rouda puts a new and deranged twist on revenge! She is an impressive author and I’ll be reading more of her books! Jane loves telling us about her “perfect life”. She has it all...or had it all...a gorgeous husband, two beautiful children and an amazing oceanfront house in a gated community in Southern California. Everything was perfect until a tragic accident took the life of her daughter, Mary. Jane spends the next year in a haze of anti-depressants, alcohol and grief. But she decides it’s time to pull herself together and move on. Her other daughter, Betsy, is getting ready to graduate from High School and she wants her perfect family back. Her family has moved on in the last year without her, but she just needs a little time and she’ll be back in control. My Rating: 4.5 ⭐️’s (rounding down) Published: May 21st 2019 by Graydon House Pages: 368 Recommend: Yes! Excerpts: “None of this is easy, it never has been. I mean, it’s hardest for me trying to be so selfless, the perfect wife and the perfect mother. So, life, let’s get ready to rumble.”
SPOILER ALERT - At first I thought, boy, the Mother/Wife is really full of herself and was having a hard time getting into the book. Several times I wanted to quit reading but something kept me going. I'm glad I did. As the story went on, told from Jane's point of view, she released more and more about herself and her daughter that passed away. I realized that Jane was diabolical, calculating, completely narcissitic and passive/aggressive. She couldn't stay people leaving her and eventually became fascinated by death and strange ways people have died.
Boy Jane was a real hoot, reading this book through her eyes really makes you think about people who are really crazy and believe things that aren't entirely the truth. Jane was certainly a person out for herself and I wonder how she made it so long hiding that part of herself and staying married with her daughters. I liked this writing style and would definitely read another book by Kaira Rouda.
“The Favorite Daughter” by Kaira Rouda is the story of Jane Harris and the perfect home, the perfect family, and the perfect lie. It is unfolds in Jane’s first person narrative. She talks to herself and she talks to readers. She admits being manipulative, “I should win a domestic Golden Globe.” She shares her feelings about others “Well, she was already on my list of course, but she’s bumped herself up in the ratings.” She explains her social philosophy “I’ve always enjoyed the company of men over women. I’m sorry to say. They’re just, well, easier.” In addition, she shares her research, “But honestly, I watch a lot of crime TV these days, do a lot of online research about death. If you are going to be murdered, you’re more likely to be killed by someone you know, and most likely, love. Almost half of all murdered women are killed by a romantic partner. Lovely, I know.” Readers can only wonder why she is sharing that! Jane Harris lives picturesque Orange County. A beautiful place, but Jane’s beautiful life is drenched in sadness. One year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a terrible accident, but despite this gut-wrenching tragedy, Jane is someone that readers will just love to hate. In fact, everyone in the book is nasty, and that nastiness makes for fantastic reading. Of course, there are times when one cannot help but root for her, even just a little, but unfortunately, she is just disagreeable, narcissistic, and horrible. Rouda’s plot proceeds at an appropriate pace with plenty of twists and turns, but it is not so complex that readers get lost in the complications since Jane feels compelled to share her secrets. “The Favorite Daughter” is a fun, almost compulsive read. The storyline is interesting with some unexpected moments, and an extraordinary ending. I received a review copy of “The Favorite Daughter” from Kaira Rouda, and Graydon House Books. It is highly entertaining.
In The Favorite Daughter, by Kaira Rouda, the narrator, Jane Harris is unreliable, this is clear from page one. As a reader I definitely didn’t like her, however, I was fascinated by her story and wanted to keep reading just to see how far her narcissism would go. Kind of like a train wreck you can’t help but watch. Rouda wraps you into the story and keeps you reading even as you recognize that you don’t actually like any of these characters. That is a rare talent. Rouda earned her place on my auto-buy list with Best Day Ever. The Favorite Daughter just cemented her into place. I look forward to seeing where we go next. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this novel.
This was one heck of a book. From the beginning you will get into Jane’s head and won’t be able to escape. She’s one narcissistic woman who you don’t need to cross. I liked her very much but would certainly never want her as a neighbor. The characters in this book are so well developed. So hard to truly get to know. You only get to know them via Jane Harris and Jane has lots of opinions about each person in this book. It’s told completely from Jane. This book will keep you turning pages until the very end. You will want to know honestly who did what to whom and will certain people get caught in their deceitful, conniving, two timing lies. Or will Jane get what she wants. The truth about what happened to her first daughter, Mary. Did Mary have an accident or did someone push her? If someone pushed her, was it a loved one or a mortal enemy? Or could it truly have been just an accident and Jane can’t accept it as such. I enjoyed every page of this book. There were some characters I didn’t like but they were still important. Just don’t cross Jane. Jane is a force to be reckoned with if you bother someone she loves. Thank you to #NetGalley and Harlequin-Grayden House Books for the copy in exchange of my complete and honest review. I loved it. It’s a big 5 stars.
The Favorite Daughter takes the unreliable narrator to a whole new level with Jane, which was a bit two-sided for me. On one hand, the author has created a character who certainly piques the interest. There's no way to read this one and not be shocked by Jane's words and actions. On the flip-side of that, Jane is so out there with her behavior, at least in what she tells the reader, that it's almost impossible not to see where this story has to be going. There are twists, but most of them are a little too easy to at least guess at way before they're revealed. Despite that, the story still held my interest. I think a big part of that lay with the characters. Surprisingly, there really aren't any characters in this one that I particularly liked, but the author still managed to make me feel some measure of sympathy for their situation - even the ones who were in a mess of their own making. That's a feat in itself and certainly shows Rouda's talent for storytelling. In the end, I liked some things about this one, and others, not so much, but it is worth the read.
Kaira Rouda is a unique storyteller with a talent for character creativity! We first meet Jane, the narrator of the story. I have to admit that initially I felt sorry for her. She was grieving for the loss of her daughter, Mary, in a tragic accident. It seems her husband was not sympathetic and she had been reliant on drugs to help her get through the days. Then doubts crept into my mind and I was not sure that I liked Jane very much. She proves to be a narcissist, controlling and probably a psychopath. I did enjoy a line I read in one of the later chapters where Jane described she was going to have the Best Day Ever, which is the title of her previous book. I loved it!
Jane has the perfect life. Well, except for the fact that her oldest daughter died in a tragic accident last year. And the fact that her youngest daughter had completely turned against her. Oh, and the fact that she suspects her husband is having an affair. Other than that, everything is perfect and she is in control—she has the perfect plan to make them all pay. "None of it will matter in a couple of days, anyway, not if everything goes as it should." The Favorite Daughter is a riveting, on the edge of your seat, story that knock your socks off. Jane is such an evil, conniving woman and everything she does fulfills a part of her master plan. A plan that she lets the reader in on to some degree. It was interesting to know her thought process throughout the book and to get a glimpse of her anger and sense of revenge. This was definitely a unique story-line, where the reader is so much in the head of the main character. It was an amazing read that I couldn't put down! You definitely need to add it to your TBR list for this summer.
3 nutty stars to this unreliable narrator story This is my first read by this author, although I see that she’s written quite a few books. This one features an unreliable, over-the-top narrator, Jane. At first, I struggled a bit with this book, but then I just sort of went with the crazy and I enjoyed it more. Poor Jane lost her daughter a year ago with a tragic fall into the ocean and she’s just now digging her way out of the grief. She’s decided to turn a new leaf and get her husband back and reconnect with her other daughter. Which reminds me, I’m still not sure who is the favorite daughter? Jane has a fun way of talking to us as the reader and it adds to the campiness of the book. Jane is a really crazy character who really does some unexpected things. The book builds a bit in anticipation as some new clues come out about what really happened to her daughter a year ago. This one is not quite my cup of tea, but it was a good departure read for me.
I can see many people loving this book with Jane, our unreliable narrator, weaving tales and creating stories. But I had a hard time with her. She seemed unhinged from the beginning, wild and crazy. I like a more slow build when it comes to unreliable narrators. I don’t like knowing from the get go that I shouldn’t trust them. I also didn’t like how Jane talked directly to the reader. It seemed unnecessary. The plot was interesting and kept you turning pages. There was the main story of her daughter who tragically died the year before and the current story of her family moving in and coping with that loss. Jane obsessed about controlling all of her family and them not involving her in the present or their plans for their future caused her crazy to escalate. At the end it all unravels, predictably so. I received an advanced copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review.